FARGO, N.D. – The American Association of Independent Professional Baseball (AAPB) has named Chris Coste as the league's 2022 Manager of the Year. An internal vote among General Managers, Field Managers, Media Directors, and Broadcasters selected the winners for all 2022 Postseason Awards.
Coste is in his third season as manager and fifth season with the team's coaching staff. He joined the team in 2018 as hitting and bench coach before being named interim manager in 2020. On April 21, 2021, Coste was named the team's fourth manager in RedHawks history. In his three years as manager of the RedHawks, Coste is 153-106 (.591) in 259 regular season games and 4-6 (.400) in the postseason, guiding the team to its first appearance in the AAPB Finals in 2021.
"It's a well-deserved honor for not only Chris but the entire coaching staff," said Brad Thom, RedHawks President/CEO. "Players love playing for him, and Chris is the utmost professional. We are proud to have him at the helm of the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks."
He has one of the unique stories in baseball as he started his professional career in 1995 playing for the Brainerd Bears in the North Central League and the Brandon Grey Owls in the Prairie League. The Fargo native played for the RedHawks from the team's start in 1996 until 1999. He was named to the Northern League All-Star Team in 1997, 1998, and 1999 and helped lead the RedHawks to the team's first Northern League title in 1998. Coste had a .322 batting average with 429 hits, 44 home runs, and 221 RBIs in 335 games with the RedHawks. In 1999, Coste signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates but was released after spring training and returned to the RedHawks. The Cleveland Indians purchased his contract in 2000. He spent six seasons in the minor leagues before making his MLB Debut for the Philadelphia Phillies on May 26, 2006, against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Coste won a World Series championship with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008 and became the first player from the Division III Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) to win a World Series ring. In addition, he played in affiliated baseball for the Phillies, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, Boston Red Sox, and Cleveland Indians organizations. Coste appeared in a total of 299 Major League Baseball games between the Phillies and Astros and had a career MLB average of .272.
Legendary RedHawks pitcher and current player personnel consultant Jeff Bittiger added, "Chris Coste is the poster boy for independent and Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks baseball. There is nothing he hasn't achieved at every level of professional baseball. He is an example to every player in the Upper Midwest of what is possible with talent and an iron will to succeed. As a manager, he transcends generations, wins players' trust and respect, and creates an environment that breeds winning."
Following his retirement as a player, Coste served as an in-studio analyst on Comcast SportsNet, appearing on the Phillies pregame and postgame shows. He has been the head coach at Concordia since the summer of 2014, and in 2017, Coste was the head coach of the West Fargo Patriots American Legion team and led them to a state tournament berth. He resigned after returning to the RedHawks coaching staff in 2018.
"Coste and I became friends & colleagues when he joined my staff in 2018, and I knew he would be a perfect fit then and a wonderful future manager." said former RedHawks manager Michael Schlact. “His calm, positive, steady leadership & his fantastic baseball career beginning in Fargo make him a perfect independent baseball manager.” The current Missoula PaddleHeads manager added, "Among the many things I've learned from him is the ability to be process-oriented rather than results driven. I couldn't be happier for Chris and this remarkable achievement."
Chris has written two books about his experiences in professional baseball: "Hey... I'm Just the Catcher: "An Inside Look at a Northern League Season from Behind the Plate," published in 1997, and "The 33-Year-Old Rookie: How I Finally Made it to the Big Leagues After Eleven Years in the Minors." The book, which chronicles Coste's first season in the majors, contains a foreword by former Phillies' first baseman John Kruk.
This is Coste’s first AAPB Manager of the Year award. He joins former manager Jim Bennett (2019) as RedHawks managers who have won the award since joining the AAPB, and Doug Simunic, who was named the Northern League's Manager of the year six times (1996, 1998, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2008) during his managerial career with the team.
He joins Tyler Grauer (Rookie Pitcher of the Year), third baseman Leo Piña, designated hitter Drew Ward and relief pitcher Alex DuBord (AAPB Postseason All-Star Team) as RedHawks who have won league awards in 2022.
The RedHawks will take on the Winnipeg Goldeyes in Game 2 of the AAPB West Division Playoffs tonight at Newman Outdoor Field. The first pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. and is a must-win game as Winnipeg leads the series 1-0 after winning Game 1 on Wednesday. The winner of this series will face the winner of the Kansas City/Lincoln series in the West Division Championship.
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